Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse goes beyond their first-glance loud rock and rollness to create thought-provoking, one-of-a-kind, and extremely listenable music. They're sort of like the bullies who walk into the playground after a few minutes of sissy play and tell the kids what's what, but make it better in the process.

see Ugly Casanova

Information: Modest Mouse
Suggested First Purchase: Building Nothing Out of Something

Sad Sappy Sucker (1995) -- Although it wasn't actually released until 2001, this was Modest Mouse's first album, even though the next one is a more proper first album, since this one is short and messy and doesn't show nearly what they learned and will learn as much as Long Drive does. What we have, though, are very good, sloppy, Calvin Johnson-recorded songs and songs that Isaac recorded for his outgoing answering machine message ("dial-a-songs," a la They Might Be Giants). Lots of fans had heard lots of these songs by the time this album was released, since many were eventually released on singles and such. Anyway, the music is pretty great, if not as crafted, though sometimes the craftedness (and longness) of the songs gets more in the way of the raw bursts of goodness. B

This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing To Think About (1996) -- The title is apt, because it runs like a long drive CD: very long, pretty if you look close, bumpy shaky pretty great, a little longer than you want it to be. Did I mention long? Modest Mouse CDs tend to be about twenty-five minutes longer than they need to be, but that's also what makes them what they are: the long and drawn-out-ness. The regular shorter songs sit inside the longer songs, cradled by them, not even as seperate tracks. The CD comes out of nowhere and is kinda spooky. Highlights are "Breakthrough," "Lounge," and "Head South" (featuring Calvin Johnson). Then again, the whole album really acts as one long song. A

Interstate 8 EP (1996) -- All the songs on here are great (a little unfortunate that "Tundra/Desert" was already heard on the LP), as are the six bonus songs, the demo that Modest Mouse sent Up Records. "All Nite Diner" is perfect, funny, quirky. B

The Fruit That Ate Itself EP (1996) -- This Calvin Johnson-produced EP has the mark of K all over it. Modest Mouse works well with Calvin, sometimes even better than when they're left to their own devices. This EP has a nice goofiness to it. "The Fruit That Ate Itself" and "Summer" are the most irresistable tracks. B

The Lonesome Crowded West (1997) -- This album begins crazy, and you're not sure where it's going. As with all Modest Mouse LPs so far, it's long and needs to be that way and works if you're lonesome enough to pay attention to it. This album is probably even better than the first, with "Lounge (Closing Time)," "Cowboy Dan," the perfect Modest Mouse song "Trailer Trash," the touching "Bankrupt on Selling," and the man-oh-man-this-is-so-good-it-hurts "Styrofoam Boots/It's All Nice On Ice, Alright." A

Building Nothing Out of Something (1999) -- This is a collection of songs from EPs and singles, and because of that, it doesn't have that tied-together albumness of other Modest Mouse LPs. And this is what makes it work as a good introduction to Modest Mouse music, since the songs are more consise than they usually are on the albums. They make their point and go on to the next one. All of the Interstate 8 EP appears on here, since it's out of print now, but the other songs are new to anyone who hasn't been collecting the singles and other rarities. Highlights include "Never Ending Math Equation," "All Nite Diner," and "Whenever You Breathe Out, I Breath In (Positive Negative)." A

The Moon and Antarctica (2000) -- This album is only maybe fifteen minutes longer than it needs to be, instead of twenty-five, though in the end it's not quite as good as their other releases, though great. What's made Modest Mouse work over these four years so far is that they do slightly new-sounding stuff each time (to keep our attention) while maintaining the stuff that makes them good. Highlights of this album include "3rd Planet," "Gravity Rides Everything," "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes," and "Paper Thin Walls." B

Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks EP (2001) -- A perfection companion piece to The Moon and Antarctica, complete with a full version of one of the "inbetween" songs ("3 Inch Horses, Two Faced Monsters") and a remix of another ("The Air"), not to mention the great "Night on the Sun" and "So Much Beauty In Dirt." The only thing wrong with the collection is that it contains a repeat from the full album ("I Came as a Rat") which seems to be there for no reason. B

Good News for People Who Love Bad News (2004) -- Modest Mouse has finally trimmed the fat. All the stuff that's made us love Modest Mouse over the years is here, but none of the too-longness is. I guess they've been reading my reviews. Everything here is tight, and the newness here is provided by the raunchy horns of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and their nods toward people like Tom Waits. A very solid Modest Mouse. A

Copyright (c) Aug 2000 - Apr 2004 by Rusty Likes Music